Beginning with Klaus then Lola...
Hi we're the happy kampers - Dee and Scott and we own Lola and Klaus our on the road houses. We're from Adelaide in SA and are slowly making our way around Australia in parts. We have done our first big trip in Lola this summer 2016 from Adelaide to Byron Bay and Noosa. Where we are now eagerly saving our pennies for more adventures to come. We have big plans in the works for the next few years and hope to hire another kombi and travel the UK for our honeymoon. I recently started the Vantasia project where I illustrate drawings of travelling van life people and their stories with the aim to create a book at the end.
A bit of a back story on how we came to be vanlifers...
My poppa also owned many kombis and this is how we best remember him. They have always been a feature in family memories. Especially the day he drove to work with the back of the kombi on fire or the weekend road trips taken with 5 kids and their dogs piled in.
Not long after Scott and I met we welcomed a 1972 lowlight microbus named Klaus and a 1976 sopru camper called Lola in our lives. It all goes back to my partner Scott who's parents started the obsession. When he was 3 years old his parents moved to Kangaroo Island where they lived in an orange 1974 sopru camper for 3 months while their house was being built. After the house was built the Kombi was started for the first time in a while but quickly set fire to some surrounding dry grass. The fire nearly spread over the 10 acres of land but was put out by the neighbors who owned an old water carting truck. Luckily it was full all the time! Fast forward 13 odd years and Scott got his P's and the Kombi got some much needed mechanical maintenance. Eventually the Kombi got sold for financial reasons and Scott was devastated. Then went for 5 or so years not even thinking about Kombi vans until we got together. He was looking for a new car and happened to see a Kombi for sale while searching. From there he got the bug back again and found Klaus for sale around the corner from his old house where he sold the orange 74. We camped in Klaus for a couple of years taking it away for weeks ends. A trip to robe.... and a trip to falls festival.
Our second kombi Lola was a lucky find I purchased her with my Nona’s inheritance and spent a year restoring her. Myself making curtains and painting murals on the interior furniture then Scotty installing his latest gadgets and fixing the engine. Then we fixed the paintwork together. We did a few trips to the Yorke Peninsula to test her out first before we attempted our Byron Bay trek.
We travel over 7800kms in 4 weeks and covered 4 states. We saw some amazing beaches, met somegenerous people and had the experience of our lives. Living together in a small space for long periods of time and in some remote areas you really learn more about each other and yourself and give space to grow and learn without all the daily routine and distractions. For us it's about simplifying and just getting out and exploring places, spaces and meeting likeminded people.
, wash your clothes, give you a back rub and shampoo
Our favourite spot ... Hard to choose! Apart from Byron bay and Torquay would have to be the Yorke Peninsula or Kangaroo Island in SA. South Australia has loads of free and secluded camping spots right by the beach and no being moved along by Rangers!
One of our funniest memories was losing our breaks on a dirt road on the way to the beach at Robe. We managed to hobble back into town and find a mechanic to hoist Klaus up. They let us camp behind the mechanics on their block of land until new parts arrived. The apprentice mechanic was living in a trailer on the block there too so we spent most of our time hanging out there or at the beach.
Another break down memory from our recent trip was Byron Bay in the middle of the main street. It just stalled and wouldn't start again. It was so great to see how many locals pitched in and came over to offer help and offer advice. They told us about their personal story's of owning kombis and their break down experiences. A lovely old taxi driver pulled up and got out onto the road and got into the back end of Lola to see if he could help us out. But we'll never forget that night when we were fixing Lola in the car park of the Railway pub which happened to be the closest safe spot to try and fix the problem. While the band played and the locals downed some beers Scotty was under the bus changing the fuel pump while I handed him tools, coffee and loads of chocolate. Running In between the pub for a beer and the night market across the road for a feed. The Dune Rats were playing at the Northern that night and were unloading their band gear in the car space behind us but they seemed pretty confused about this guy with his legs sprawling out from under a Kombi throwing tools and parts and cursing loudly. Heaps of locals stopped to chat about their Kombis and lend a helping hand. It was so great to have that connection and sense of community spirit. After being covered in grease and oil we both went into the pub for a beer and to watch the band! Job well done mission accomplished! We've learnt if you break down we just get out the old 'how to keep your Volkswagen alive'- by John Muir - a must for any vw owner! Then Scotty tinkers away while I read through the manuals. And if we really get stuck there's always a helpful person who has owned a kombi that will gladly stop to offer assistance.
It's not about glamping it's about navigating our way around and being there in the moment for all the experiences we are presented with. Whether it's the beauty and excitement of finding a secluded beach or camping spot and exploring some hidden gems in nature to the uncertainty of breaking down on the highway and how to make it to a safe spot to work under the car, or figuring your way out of sticky situations like how to get out of a bogged road in the rain. That's all part of the journey and if we weren't prepared for it we wouldn't own two Kombis.
When we're not travelling we're working our butts off to save for our next trips or taking weekend getaways to pass time and plan the next trip. Scotty is a musician and a music teacher and I'm an artist/designer who also works part time in an office. When I'm not working or making jewellery or drawing, I'm daydreaming about our next camping adventure, paddle boarding or snorkeling. Or we're fitting new parts to one of the Kombis in the driveway...
Van life - it's not always glamorous or easy and sometimes it's about survival. But we're out there to learn and live a good life to see what experiences are on offer or great people we will meet along the way.
Lola and Klaus are like family members to us we couldn't imagine them not being part of us.
Would you like to join the Vantasia project? For vanlifers that love their home away from home and would like an a personal illustration of their vanlife and become part of the story. Please feel free to email me at thehappykampersLK@gmail.com
and follow us at @the_happykampers - tag yourself and #vanlife diaries#vantasiaproject #the_happykampers
Dee and Scott
#vantasiaproject - "drawing together our journeys"